Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: The Burgess Boys

P. 8     But after Susan Burgess' son did what he did - after the story about him had been in the newspapers, even in The New York Times, and on television too - I said on the phone to my mother, "I think I'm going to write the story of the Burgess kids."
"It's a good one," she agreed.
"People will say it's not nice to write about people I know."
My mother was tired that night. She yawned. "Well, you don't know them," she said. "Nobody ever knows anyone."

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout is a well written, very human portrayal of deeply flawed characters.  A freak accident killed their father when they were children. Ultimately, Jim and Bob Burgess left Maine and ended up successful in New York City. Jim's a corporate lawyer. Bob's a legal aid attorney. They were well thought of back home, with almost a glowing mythology. Susan, the loner sister, stayed behind and now her son Zach, a teen, is in trouble. Big trouble - with political and religious ramifications.

The Burgess boys head home, but to what? Are they able to "fix" the situation? Do long buried tensions surface? Life just isn't beautiful and perfect and neatly tied up in a bow.

Indeed, do we ever know anyone? In The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout explores family relationships and digs deep into sibling love/hate/failure/redemption/and life.


  1. I don't know how you keep up with so many books and write reviews. Well done with this one. Not sure I want to read it though.

  2. It sounds like a terrific read. Thanks for the great review.

  3. I'd be interested in reading this book!